How the Neuron Sprouts its Branches
Neurobiologists have gained new insights into how neurons control growth of the intricate tracery of branches called dendrites that enable them to connect with their neighbors. Dendritic connections are the basic receiving stations by which neurons form the signaling networks that constitute the brain's circuitry.
Such basic insights into neuronal growth will help researchers better understand brain develop in children, as well as aid efforts to restore neuronal connections lost to injury, stroke or neurodegenerative disease, said the researchers.
In a paper published in the Dec. 8, 2005, issue of Neuron, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Michael Ehlers and his colleagues reported that structures called "Golgi outposts" play a central role as distribution points for proteins that form the building blocks of the growing dendrites.
Besides Ehlers, who is at Duke University Medical Center, other co-authors were April Horton in Ehlers' laboratory; Richard Weinberg of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.; Bence R